Kuriakose Elias Chavara

April 1, 2022

Saint Elias is renowned as a saint, a man, and a champion of the faith throughout his life. Even if history tries, it does not do him justice or give him enough credit for the great works throughout his life. Having been born in an ancient Christian community, the life of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and his destiny lay with many firsts, an aspect that ran through his life to his dying day.

Born on 10 February 1805, Elias was baptized eight days after his birth, as this was the local custom. Between the age of 5 and 10, he attended a village school where he studied different language dialects and elementary sciences. At 13, while following his deep desire to become a priest, he joined the seminary in 1818, where Palackal Thomas Malpan was the Rector. On 29 November 1829, he was ordained as a priest and celebrated his First Holy Mass Chennankari Church.

After his ordination, he took part in the pastoral ministry; however, he soon returned to the seminary, where he officiated for Malpan Thomas Palackal in his absence and taught. Therefore, he joined Malpan Thomas Palackal and Malpan Thomas Porukara. Together they led a monastic life and founded the Servants of Mary Immaculate community. After the death of his partners, he took up leadership of the foundation, which was the first monastery at Mannanam, with its stone laid on 11 May 1831. On 8 December 1855, Elias and other ten priests took vows for a religious profession in Carmelite tradition. In 1856 he was nominated as the Prior General of the monasteries of the congregation till his death in 1871.

Even though Elias came from a Syriac Christian family of higher social status, he played a significant role in uplifting and educating people, especially those of the lower ranks in society. He also played other notable roles in the community. In 1861 he was appointed Vicar-General of the Syro-Malabar Church when a schism threatened the church without the proper credentials from the Pope.


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